Acts of Mercy During Lent: Catholic Church in Ranchi Opens Shelter for Covid-Hit

Catholic Church of Ranchi opened the first shelter for migrant workers and their families stuck in the Ranchi district at Muri on the West Bengal border on 3rd April 2020 when a first group of 46 guests were brought by the local police thana chief.

Apr 06, 2020

By Verghese V Joseph
Catholic Church of Ranchi opened the first shelter for migrant workers and their families stuck in the Ranchi district at Muri on the West Bengal border on 3rd April 2020 when a first group of 46 guests were brought by the local police thana chief. Among the 46 guests there are 6 women, a child aged 3 years, another child aged 1 year. A third child is only 3 months only. One of the women is also pregnant.

The guests are accommodated in the shelter organized in the Ursuline High School, Muri, which is run by the Ursuline Sisters. Each of the guests had been earlier screened by the local government medical authorities with thermal scanners and certified as not showing symptoms of COVID-19. The guests were welcomed lovingly by the Sisters and the Jesuit Fathers who have also prepared another shelter nearby in their own school. Each of the guests has been provided with a mat, two towels, two bedsheets, own steel plate and glass, a bucket and a mug as basic shelter facilities. They are also being provided with Masks and sanitizers. They will be served three complete nutritious meals a day, provisions for which are being acquired in advance by the sisters. All social distancing norms are being followed at the Ursuline High School which has been converted into a shelter home for about 200 expected guests. The whole area was fumigated by the local authorities before the shelter was opened.

The men and the families were heading for the Purulia district of West Bengal, and were employed in the Namkum, Bariatu and Argora chowk areas of Ranchi. They had walked 65 to 70 kilometres before they were stopped by the police. All of them specially the Pregnant woman and the family with the infant child are relieved that they have found shelter as they had their feet bruised and sore after walking for 30 hours. They had their first bath in the river in Subarnarekha Muri after a number of days.

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX, Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi along with the Jesuit Provincial Fr. Joseph Marianus Kujur SJ, Ms Smita Mutt from the Deputy Commissioner Office and some Jesuit Fathers visited the shelter in the early morning of April 4th, 2020. Bishop Theodore prayed with the sister volunteers and asked the Lord for protection and safety of all. He also prayed for the grace for the volunteers that they may serve with love and dedication. He also implored God’s blessings on the Deputy Commissioner and his team with whom the Catholic Church in Ranchi is collaborating with in running the shelters.

Bishop Theodore spoke to the guests, welcomed them and told them to consider the school as their home. He assured them that they would be treated with love and that the sisters would do everything possible to help them as they were our brothers and sisters. He also explained to them the health safety requirements. Ms. Smita expressed her admiration for the wonderful arrangements and for the quick time the shelter had been organised.

It may be recalled that the District administration had requested the Catholic Church in Ranchi to take full responsibility for running of the shelters for migrant workers who are stuck up in the district and are expected to be here for a month or more. The Catholic Church has willingly and generously accepted this mission as was made known in a joint circular by Archbishop Felix Toppo and Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas. 13 more shelters are already prepared by the Church and are awaiting guests. An initial estimate of the District administration is that the number of migrants affected by the locked own could run into thousands.--Indian Catholic Matters

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